Most people are aware that truck drivers are an essential piece of the supply chain, carrying everything from essential supplies headed to store shelves to the latest online purchases that end up on customers’ doorsteps. But not many people dwell on what takes place behind the scenes to make this efficient system possible.
Everybody in the transportation industry can tell you that there is another journey that takes place before drivers deliver their loads. Without it, the trucking industry would be chaotic.
That is the process of load planning.
All carriers want to maximize the efficiency of loads across their fleets to get the most out of their assets. Dedicated load planners are responsible for allocating loads to drivers. Planners must consider which drivers are best positioned to deliver loads and plan trips accordingly. It sounds simpler than it is.
Load planners must consider the following: Are only certain drivers willing to take certain kinds of loads? How many hours does a driver have left to work? Is the driver already on a load? Can they pick up a load on the return trip? Does a driver have pending tasks preventing them from taking a load?
The more trucks in a fleet, the more complicated it becomes to take these considerations into account. It’s both confusing and time-consuming to try to piece together the whole picture by switching between multiple programs or shuffling through papers.
This is why a load planning board is an essential tool for carriers to manage all of their fleets’ moving pieces.
Ditat’s load planning board lets carriers view and manage all their load planning necessities in one place. It gives load planners a bird’s-eye view of their fleet in one comprehensive command center. This makes it easy to offer loads to drivers most suited to take them, maximizing efficiency while boosting driver satisfaction.
Missouri-based Artur Express, a full truckload fleet of approximately 800 trucks and 4,000 trailers, is one carrier using Ditat’s load planning board to its fullest extent.
“With the prior software, we weren’t able to see everything visually. A lot of our planning was done on paper, kind of old school. With Ditat, we’re able to visualize our loads,” said Lukasz Wagrodzki, senior operations manager at Artur Express.
Using Ditat, planners can monitor their trucks’ locations, hours of service and estimated times of arrival, as well as more specific details such as whether a truck is pre-loaded, if it is on a drop-and-hook trip, and more. All of this information helps planners make the best possible decisions for truck utilization in one convenient system.
In some larger fleets like Artur Express, planners may be responsible for different zones or divisions, so multiple people may need access to the system. Ditat offers multiple-user access and greater control to filter loads and trucks easily — and separate information by division like local, regional or over-the-road — so planners just see the information they are responsible for.
Once offered a load, a driver receives all the directions, pickup numbers, weights, notes and everything else required to deliver. Ditat automatically provides dispatchers with updates along the driver’s journey.
“A lot of drivers don’t want to call,” said Mark Koch, director of operations at Artur Express. “They want to use technology. The good thing about Ditat is that we are able to provide all of the required information right there in front of drivers. It eliminates a lot of time and aggravation.”
Artur Express’ owner-operators have access to Ditat’s load board to preplan loads, an ability Sadie Church, vice president of driver relations, says has been a powerful recruiting tool.
“The load board allows drivers the opportunity to choose their loads and dispatch themselves. Lease drivers and OOs all have access to our load board. Advertising to prospective drivers they have the ability to select their loads from a load board has been a game-changer for the recruiting department,” Church said.
“In fact, our best performing recruiting ad of the year was our Lease with a Load Board ad,” Church confirmed.
Users can easily integrate their preferred software into Ditat’s load planning board.
“As we all know, the transportation industry has changed greatly in the last 10 or 20 years. Ditat has allowed us to integrate every new technology that we brought on, whether it’s tracking software, fuel card or even customers. Integrations are almost limitless,” Koch said.
Koch cited an example of a recent software integration with Ditat that allows the company to track when trailers are loaded or unloaded, providing more information about the status of the delivery.
“One of the best features I like about Ditat is the ability to stay ahead of changes in technology or the marketplace,” Koch said. “With Ditat, we are able to call them and they are able to work with us to integrate new technologies and customers.”